Exhibition blurs painting and sculpture
The title of Hang Chunhui’s ongoing exhibition in Beijing, Ambiguity, is inspired by a verse from the 11th century Yuefu Shiji, or the poetry collection of the music bureau. The verse reads: “Lotus flowers disappear in mist and dew, only the leaves are ambiguously visible.”
The 41-year-old artist says the line indicates a traditional Chinese way of art appreciation that mysticism is beauty.
He says it works with his recent exploration of creating works that blur the boundary between painting and sculpture.
Hang is known as an ink artist. Most of his previous paintings feature a classic style involving the gongbi technique.
But since 2015, the Beijingbased artist has turned experimental, producing works that combine ink painting and sculpture.
His 30 creations now on show at the Asia Art Center, in the city’s 798 art district, demonstrate his skills.
“When people look at the works, they are likely to be deceived,” says Hang.
For example, when one stands in front of Warm No 2, the person feels that it depicts a piece of yellow cloth with folds and wrinkles.
But if he walks to any side he realizes that he was misled: Hang doesn’t paint the folds or wrinkles. They are formed by the wooden board that is pasted under the painting.
Hang uses the same “visual trick” in another work, Daily Series — White Desktop.
In this work, the viewers first think that the four edges are painted in gray. But when they go closer they find the gray areas are the frame’s shadows, which are cast by lights carefully installed on the ceiling and angled.
Hang’s experiments are grounded in an interdisciplinary academic background.
He studied sculpture for his bachelor’s degree. He received a master’s degree in visual communication and a doctorate degree in traditional inkbrush painting.
Hang says his works attempt to smudge the line between painting and sculpture, traditional and contemporary approaches to ink art and abstract and representative forms.
“I hope that my identity as an ink artist is forgotten by the audience after they tour the exhibition.”
While he says he no longer works in the realm of traditional ink art, he adds that this approach does not intend to dispel the Asian flavor of his creations.
“As a Chinese artist one cannot escape it.
“Besides, I believe that retaining the Asian taste is how ink art carries on and enriches the presentation of a sculpture.”
The exhibition also features one of Hang’s latest creations that he wishes to develop into a new series.
In the work, he paints against a gray background Braille alphabets that say: “If you can see, you don’t need this passage.” It is also the work’s title. He says the work addresses the differences between vision and hearing and the cultural gaps that are hard to narrow.
He also invites people to discuss the possibilities of communication. Desktop andWhite
“When I painted the work, I saw a sophisticated side of myself — which appeared when I became more skillful with the gongbi style.
“I felt enormously free and rejuvenated.”
WarmNo2 is showing at Hang’s exhibition.
WhiteMosaics is his main work on show.
Hang Chunhui’s artworks follow a Chinese technique.